Posted by Alex
| June 29th, 2010 | Filed under Uncategorized
With over 120 nominees for the 2010 Grant for Change now in the bucket, and voting in full swing, we asked Nau designer Peter Kallen to share with us what he looks for in good design, and what will influence his vote for one of this year’s nominees
TTK: What is good design to you?
Peter: To me, design is about communicating an idea. It’s a little like making a sentence: you choose words that communicate a thought, a feeling or an idea, whether just for a moment or for the bigger picture. At Nau, our idea was to prove that a company could do well by doing good, and we did that by first designing a business, and then turning to the more literal sense of what our designs were going to look like. But in that too, it was about how they were going to express who we are as a company. So design is about how you communicate with people, and everyone in this world has a sense of design responsibility.
TTK: Do you think design is inherently positive?
Peter: No, definitely not. Design isn’t always positive; that’s why it has enormous responsibilities. It’s what creates change, whether it’s good or bad. Design has a dark side: you think about a gun. It’s designed, and mechanically speaking that design is genius. But the result of that design is to kill or maim.
TTK: In your eyes, what’s the Grant For Change about?
Peter: I think the Grant For Change exists to sift through all those different aspects of design and bring to the surface those projects that are considered and good and transformative, that can become agents of positive change. And that can take many forms. Good design comes in a lot of different shapes; it’s not just engineering or architecture or graphic. It could be a poet: think of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech; he designed that speech to bring hope and bring a brigade of people to life, so to speak. So it doesn’t have to be an object; design can be brought to the surface in a multitude of forms. So I hope the G4C can help bring up the conversation around concept of design and what it means in the world.
TTK: What will you be looking for as you sift through the nominees?
Peter: I’ll be looking at the intent behind each one and what they’re trying to do. So it’s not about the object first, it’s about the intent. It doesn’t have to be something that’s going to change the world we live in, but it has to have the guts to survive; it has to have its own life. I want to see people challenging conventional thought and understand why they’re trying to change something. Once I see that intent, then I can dissect the object, and ask: did they finesse it? Did the passion and consideration of their idea flow through the form of the object? I want to see the depth of their initial thought, and then see all the little ingredients they chose to execute it well.
TTK: What do you hope the end result of the Grant For Change will be?
Peter: I hope that the Grant For Change opens up people’s idea of what design can be. And then I hope the submissions show us how to challenge ourselves to create good design. You know, there are so many things out there, but so few good things. So personally, I’m looking to be inspired by design that’s just enough, not too much, and as a result incredibly powerful. I want to see someone blow my mind; I’m really hoping to see that.